The Olyroos may have reached Tokyo 2020 with all the finesse of Eric the Eel, but there’s no doubt their qualification is a huge achievement and a major boost for Australian football.
As many have pointed out, playing South Africa before the World Cup won’t prepare us properly for the World Cup. However any worthwhile opponents have already sorted out their arrangements and want nothing of the Socceroos sort.
I propose a friendly after the A-League season in early May, in which the most likely first team for the World Cup will play the best Australian A-League players who haven’t been picked.
The game should be played in the one of the A-League’s actual football stadiums, not the megalithic monsters that are Docklands and Olympic Park Stadium – say AAMI Park in Melbourne or Coopers Stadium in Adelaide.
The starting XI from the friendly against Ecuador had nine former A-League players, only Jason Davidson and Tim Cahill haven’t played here.
So without accepting it or even realising it, we’re a national team of domestic players, more like Ecuador than Argentina.
My last article called for the inclusion of Adam Taggart, David Williams and James Troisi in the World Cup squad, which was more or less met with, “You mean David Williams, as in the Heart’s David Williams!?”
So which players would make the ‘Footballroos’, the moniker I’ve given to the A-League national team. This is because Socceroos represents old football, where as the A-League is basically the first instance of football in this country and if you say anything to the contrary, I’ll accuse you of ethnic tension and flares.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Well the European continent has nabbed our best, so we’re got to choose between slim pickings and a court order.
Eugene Galekovic for me, but if we’re leaning to towards an ageist slant, it’s a two-way ref punch on between Danny Vukovic and Nathan Coe.
Graham Arnold stealing Vukovic in broad daylight last week doesn’t count.
Jason Hoffman has done well for Melbourne Heart, but his name is still Jason Hoffman. Michael Marrone or Josh Risdon.
Melbourne Victory central defenders always seem to be ‘missing this week through suspension’. I’d go with a combination of old football and new football, Paddy Kisnorbo and Osama Malik.
Play out from the back with Osama Malik, injure them when they’re on the counter with Kisnorbo.
Ironically a plethora of options here, Michael Zullo wasn’t picked against Ecuador so he is eligible. However, Aziz Behich has hit form and they both deserve a spot.
This is actually Australia’s third highest export behind iron ore and ex-pats in London.
Mark Milligan is ineligible, but we can hunt down some handy steel workers. Luke Brattan is one of the A-League’s most technically complete players, and his passing range and vision would be perfectly partnered with Leigh Broxham’s yellow cards and anger.
Both are capable of vollies outside of the box, and let’s admit it – how else are we going to score against Spain?
David Williams, he floats between the forward line, he is one of the rare wingers who can actually score – sure he misses a few, but most wingers get tackled before they get to that stage.
His 50m dribble to win the game against Sydney was complete class and he’s added a hat trick and a winner against Perth. Harry Who?
Central attacking midfielder
A position the socceroos don’t want to say is Rogic’s because it’s still kind of Cahill’s but he also has the striker position on mortgage.
As the Socceroos work out the legality of that insider trading, the Footballroos have a much clearer option.
James Troisi can score goals, dribble his way to a penalty or free kick and still finish with a suave interview to make any SBS or Fox Sports reporter swoon. He has played in the Turkish League and Serie A, Cahill and Rogic haven’t. Troisi and Rogic.
Sadly Tony Abbott doesn’t nab himself a place in the A-League’s most profitable position.
Nikita Rukavysta, Matthew Leckie, Robbie Kruse and Ben Halloran have all made their way from the right wing on hot day in country Victoria to the intellectual and football hipster Bundesliga.
So who else will follow them down this well trodden – with a stop over in Singapore – path down the German second tier?
Mark Bridge would have had this position last season, but sadly the A-League has moved on, it’s all about nut megs and hair cuts now.
The quintessentially Australian first named Mate Dugandzic is in pretty terrific form, however there is a bolter with a cool hair cut called Connor Pain, with James Virgili still on the train down from the Hunter.
Connor Pain has Dugandzic for pace, however the heart makes up for what he lacks in the tresses department, with his decision making.
How many times have we seen him stuck in a corner, only to climb his way out of to send in a pin point low cross for a 6’6 giant? At least once. He makes good decisions and has the ability to pull it off.
As the false 9 have come in vogue, so too has the fashionability of scoring goals.
Adam Taggart has improved from last season, where he had more national team goals than A-League goals. Taggart is technically efficient, and blunders less chances than most.
If Cahil was moved to CAM, I see no more adept replacement in the Socceroos team than Taggart.
Someone will no doubt comment “But Tommy Juric!”, Juric has six goals, Taggart 10. And Ruben Zadkovich ain’t no Shinji Ono.
Five man bench with a goalkeeper.
GK: Who ever lost the brawl between Coe and Vukovic, I wouldn’t bet against Vukovic in a brawl, so Coe.
Defensive: Nikolai Topor-Stanley for the defensive cover, he’s probably hard done by with Kisnorbo and Malik, but Topor-Stanley isn’t far behind, and would probably come on when one the former scores a miraculous own goal. Matt Smith an honourable mention.
Midfield: I’d love to say Anthony Caceres as he’ll become a great player, his goal was incredible, but he’s only started to play this year and there is slightly more deserving players. Possibly in the Asian Cup Footballroos team.
I’m going with Massimo Murdocca and Aaron Mooy. Murdocca has played every minute of the A-League so far, and Aaron Mooy is the disgruntled face on the flare effected Wanderers pin-up poster. Reasonably consistent and Mooy isn’t too far behind Bozanic and Vidosic.
Forward: Tom Juric – if he starts to play again, plus he’s more physical than Taggart and Williams and has a reasonable goal ratio.
The Footballroos (4-2-3-1)
Michael Marrone, Osama Malik, Patrick Kisnorbo, Aziz Behich.
Luke Brattan, Leigh Broxham.
David Williams, James Troisi, Mate Dugandzic.
Bench: Coe, Topor-Stanley, Aaron Mooy, Massimo Murdocca, Tom Juric.
Playing the Socceroos (4-2-3-1)
Ivan Franjic, Curtis Good, Matthew Spiranovic, Jason Davidson
Mile Jedinak, Mark Millgan
Tommy Oar, Tom Rogic, Matt Leckie,
My tip would be a footballroos 3-2 victory, after a first half with a Tim Cahll header and an own goal for both teams.
See you on May 15th.